Friday, March 25, 2016

We finally know she died in a mental hospital

When I started researching my husband's family 16 years ago, records weren't as plentiful on the internet. Today we often find that records are brought to us, instead of us searching after them. I experienced this today as I read my email from giving me hints on Larry's family. Listed with hints was Laura M. Jamison, Larry's great, grandaunt, for whom I only knew a birth year. 
I thought Ancestry may provide us with a census listing, but I hit the jackpot. Laura Mae's death certificate was available.
Her death certificate shows that she died August 10, 1925 at the age of 57. Her death was due to Ex Paresis. I had to look this up to learn that it meant "Chronic Mania". She died in the Dixmont Hospital in Kilbruk, Allegheny, Pennsylvania. 

There's good information on the history of Dixmont Mental Hospital here at Wikipedia. It opened in 1853 but by the 1920s, when Laura was a resident, it became very overcrowded due to PTSD patients from World War I. That gives us a picture of some of the conditions when Laura was a resident there. 

We're so blessed to be able to learn more about our ancestors today when so many records and historical information are available at our fingertips. Larry and I had given up hope of learning anything more about his great-grandaunt Laura Mae Jamison and we learned a LOT simply with a death certificate that was delivered to us in an email today! 

1 comment:

Michelle Ganus Taggart said...

I haven't been good to put a lot in my tree at Ancestry. I keep a lot in my Legacy program and then of course FamilySearch and while I brought 4 generations over from FS, I haven't continued to work on filling out my Ancestry---I just get overwhelmed with so many trees to update. But reading this makes me think I need to do a little better.

Have you read Annie's Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg. It is so good and gives us a glimpse of the whole attitude towards mental hospitals and the conditions there. Having someone in my ancestry who died in one, my heart aches for those who spent much time there in the early days.